January 21, 2005

Rumsfeld Out In Not Too Distant Future?

How President George W. Bush fills the key post of secretary of defense will be one of the pivotal decisions defining the second term he inaugurates with pomp and pizzazz in Washington Thursday, January 20. Much as he may praise Donald Rumsfeld for his “excellent job”, the secretary is believed by...Washington sources to be on his way out. The timing of his resignation – certainly not before Iraq’s January 30 election - depends on a choice of successor, for which the White House has been holding discreet contacts for weeks. That choice in turn depends on the president defining his end-game for Iraq and laying it out in clear policy guidelines.

A Democrat might be appointed to the post, in the same bipartisan way in which Republican William Cohen served as President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary.

A changing of the guard at the Pentagon amid the ferocious guerrilla war in Iraq will give the Bush administration a chance to review key policy goals....(Hat Tip: Reader Bret Eagan)

Yeah, it's Debka. So take it with, er, a pretty big grain of salt. [ed. note: Does this mean some Israelis want Rummy out too? Well, most Israelis, I'd think, want us to win, really win, in theater, right? So maybe. I continue to quite firmly believe his removal could prove a boon to the war effort there--for reasons I've extensively blogged previously]. Anyway, here's hoping this story has some legs. To repeat (and I've blogged this before too), I don't think Rummy will still be in his job by latter half of '06--and there could be an exit well earlier. You'll have heard it here first.

Posted by Gregory at January 21, 2005 01:13 AM

Lets Hope so - Rumsfeld and the other Hawks in the Administration were so keen to get the guns and bombs out they just plain forgot about deciding what they were going to do once they wiped the floor with the Iraqi military.

Perhaps a month of 2 or better planning about what to do after the invasion was complete, might have lead to less alienation of other western nations, and ensured that the coalition of the willing would have become as bogged down in the current occupation as it is now....

Posted by: Aran B at January 21, 2005 02:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Aran B --

Rummy certainly did not forsee Saddam's strategy of terrorist war, which was pretty easy to predict.

However, even had Rumsfeld been Mr. Personality, NATO and the EU would have been worthless. Bosnia/Kosovo, Tsunami Relief, and Afghanistan all proved that. The FRENCH had to LEASE all their helicopters in Afghanistan, and even then have only a few troops of fairly marginal value.

Overall, the Europeans were opposed to any action in Iraq, they had substantial interests in Iraq (and bribes) and WANTED the US humbled/constrained/damaged so they could occupy the US's power-space. "Who has not dreamed of this day?" ... a French statesman on 9/12/01.

The overall European approach to Islamic terrorism and the challenge of rogue nations such as Iraq under Saddam, Iran, North Korea, etc. is to pay them off and hope the bad man goes away or at least attacks someone else. Given their history, pacifism, huge social welfare structure, and free ride on US defense during the Cold War this is understandable, but it makes them worthless for any significant military-political alliance.

Collective security is smart policy, but it won't look like NATO or the EU like it did before.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 21, 2005 06:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg a quick follow up.

Are there ANY Democrats who actually understand the military enough to be qualified to SERVE as Defense Secretary? Here's what I got from http://armed-services.senate.gov/members.htm

Democrat Armed Services Committee Members
Carl Levin
Ted Kennedy
Robert Byrd
Joseph Lieberman
Jack Reed
Daniel Akaka (Hawaii)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
E Benjamin Nelson (NE)
Mark Dayton (MN)
Evan Bayh (IN)
Hilary Clinton

Republican Armed Services Committee Members
John Warner
John McCain
James Inhofe
Pat Roberts (KS)
Jeff Session (Alabama)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Ensign (NV)
James Talent (MS)
Saxby Chambliss (GA)
Lindsey Graham (SC)
Elizabeth Dole (NC)
John Cornyn (TX)
John Thune (SD)

Lieberman or Bayh might be the only ones who would actually have a CLUE what an aircraft carrier does or what the Marine's role in the Services are. The rest are tired old Klansmen, drunks, hacks, or too new and unknown to have a clue as to how the military and Pentagon work. The likelihood of either Lieberman or Bayh actually agreeing with Bush's desire to transform the military and wage pre-emptive wars with their party's demand for loyalty is small.

The Reps don't have a huge bench either, but Warner, McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, Chambliss and Graham would at least avoid the horror that was Les Aspin as Secretary of Defense. Reading the Dems websites, most of their Armed Services Committee work seems aimed at pork barrel stuff like keeping programs in constituents counties. The Reps have that too, but seem to have a broader outlook than the narrowness of the Dems.

Others have commented, the Dems have not had serious intellectuals covering Defense/Military issues since Nunn. The Party just hasn't been interested.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 21, 2005 08:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I'd disagree with your estimations of the quality of most Western European troops...but not your judgment that they won't be joining us in Iraq (or anywhere else for that matter) any time soon. There just aren't that many troops available for deployment. The Brits hit their limit in Iraq...and they aren't as deeply committed as France in Africa or as poorly resources as the Germans.

I came across Germans in Bosnia (nearly ten years ago) who had done 3-4 rotations a piece. They already knew they were slotted for six months home and then six more months in Kosovo. You can imagine how stretched they are now...Bosnia, Kosovo, ISAF, and SOME presence in the U.S. coalition still hunting Taliban/AQ in the hinterlands of Afghanistan.

I don't think a lot of folks who talk about the UN, EU, or NATO understand the paucity of resources available to forces they put together.

And don't even get me STARTED on the quality of most UN-led forces....

Posted by: Tim at January 21, 2005 01:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For reasons Jim R. said in his second post, I don't think Bush would ever choose a Dem to replace Rumsfeld. (That, and Debka as source, probably sinks the whole story.)
But it's an important point in itself, that it looks like the Dems have basically abandoned Def/Mil issues.

Posted by: gaw3 at January 21, 2005 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Do you this retired 4 star Army general would be a good candidate to replace Rumsfeld?
General Seeking Faster Training of Iraq Soldiers
"The officer, Gen. Gary E. Luck, largely endorses a plan by American commanders in Iraq to shift the military's main mission from fighting the insurgency to training Iraq's military and police forces to take over more security duties and become increasingly self-reliant, eventually allowing American forces to withdraw, the officials said. The aim would be to double or even triple the number of trainers now at work with Iraqi security forces, up to perhaps 8,000 or 10,000."

It was disappointing to read that McCain passed on the opportunity to tackle the position because of "Bush’s inability to clearly chart the way forward." Isn't there a candidate who could offer Bush various strategies to chart that path?

Posted by: Lucia at January 22, 2005 07:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rumsfeld is already past 70, and the great majority of effective Cabinet Secretaries do not serve all eight years of a two-term Presidency. Janet Reno was the only Cabinet member to serve eight years under Bill Clinton; the hopelessly ineffectual Sam Pierce at HUD was Reagan's only two-termer.

So I'd say Rumsfeld's resignation sometime before Bush leaves office is a pretty good bet.

Posted by: Zathras at January 23, 2005 04:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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